Posts Tagged ‘Phil Jackson’


It’s been two weeks since Kobe Bryant played a game and could be nine months before he plays another one. But on a weekend when the opening round of the playoffs featured dominant performances by the home teams and not much Game 1 drama — save for the Nuggets-Warriors — the injured 34-year-old still managed to be the most interesting story, or at least the most controversial.

Kobe, stuck at home with his Achilles injury, had promised to tweet during the opening game, an intriguing prospect because he’s proven to be an entertaining presence on social media, whether it’s his Facebook post after his devastating injury or his appearance on Twitter earlier this season.

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Fury Files, which are currently defending themselves in a million dollar lawsuit brought by Rockford. Check out all the previous editions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Michael Kruse, Chris Jones, Chris Ballard, Roland Lazenby, Will Leitch and Patrick Reusse.

This week’s guest is Peter Richmond, a former newspaper reporter who went on to become one of the country’s best magazine writers at GQ and is now a best-selling author. He’s also been a planning board member in a small village in New York.

Richmond graduated from Yale, where he studied under the legendary John Hersey and David Milch. I’d say more about that but I’ve already given away too much and Richmond talks all about it below. Richmond’s been honored numerous times in the Best American Sports Writing series and his 1992 story about Tommy Lasorda’s son, Tommy Jr., who died of AIDS, earned a spot in The Best American Sports Writing of the Century. If anyone ever produces a book called The Best American Sports Writing of the Millennium, the Lasorda piece will find its way there as well (the story is now available online on the Stacks section of Deadspin and has been anthologized in the BASW series and in the book Fathers & Sons & Sports).

The author of numerous books, Richmond is currently working on a biography of Phil Jackson. Previous efforts include My Father’s War: A Son’s Journey, a book that detailed Richmond’s efforts to discover just what it meant when he heard his late father (who died when Richmond was a young boy and had won two Silver Stars in World War II) described as a war hero. In 2010, Richmond wrote Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death, and John Madden’s Oakland Raiders. Among his other works? Ballpark: Camden Yards and the Building of an American Dream, and Fever: The Life and Music of Peggy Lee.

Richmond has a style that makes writing look easy, which disguises the fact his stories only read like that because of his talent and the exhaustive work that went into reporting his pieces and books. While he spends most of his time these days working on books, his words still pop up elsewhere. Check out his Grantland piece about how America can’t build a decent sports stadium. Or his story for SB Nation Longform about the world championship of blind baseball. And here’s his 1990 piece about Bill Murray. This past week he wrote on Bronx Banter about Hall of Famer Bernard King and his forgotten arrests, and I can only imagine the angry letters he received from Knicks fans. A devoted New York Giants fan — he also wrote a best-selling book with Frank Gifford about the famous 1958 title gameRichmond hosts a radio show about Big Blue, which was the subject of a New York Times story. And be sure to check out Richmond’s website.

Here, Richmond talks about studying under legends, the badass Raiders, the mysterious Phil Jackson, Phish, his writing style, why Cincinnati hated him, why Tommy Lasorda stopped talking to him, his evolution as a writer and much more. Thanks a lot for your time, Peter.

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“This is so unlike the Lakers.”

I’ve seen that sentiment expressed a few times the past five days, as the Lakers fired Mike Brown five games into the season, a day after saying his job was safe. I saw it as the entire thing devolved into he said/office said/sources said, with Phil Jackson emerging as a front-runner, fans chanting “We Want Phil,” Mike Dunleavy’s name popping up in terrifying fashion, Lakers fans speculating about Jerry Sloan, Magic Johnson being tossed into the mix for being an instigator and Mike D’Antoni being named coach early Monday morning. What a debacle. So unLakerlike.

It certainly was something of a fiasco, though a necessary one. But in the world of the Lakers — or at least in the world of Jerry Buss’s Lakers — it really wasn’t that outlandish. This happens in Lakerland. The shine from those championship trophies perhaps distracts people from seeing the dirt.

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Welcome back to the Fury Files, which return after serving a six-month suspension for PEDs. Check out the previous editions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Michael Kruse, Chris Jones and Chris Ballard.

This week’s guest is Roland Lazenby, and this could be the timeliest Fury Files of them all. Lazenby is a veteran writer, the author of more than 60 books. Many of those focused on the Los Angeles Lakers, and he’s written some of the best books there are about the franchise and the superstars who have played for the purple and gold. He’s also written a biography about Phil Jackson, who has, as you might have heard or read recently, made his way into the news again. Lazenby’s Mindgames is a superb look at the Zen Master and if you still find yourself wondering what motivates the mysterious legend, Lazenby’s decade-old book is your best resource. (Hopefully in a future edition of the book, we’ll learn what really happened when Mike D’Antoni was hired over Phil, which broke as this was going to, er, press).

Roland Lazenby’s next book will be a biography of Michael Jordan.

But Lazenby does much more than write about the NBA’s longest-running soap opera. His newest project is a biography of Michael Jordan, which is scheduled to be published in 2013. Like the Lakers, the Bulls — and their superstar — have long been subjects for Lazenby, who started off as a newspaper reporter in Virginia and has also been a professor at Virginia Tech and now Radford University.

Lazenby’s Bulls books include Bull Run (focused on the team’s record-breaking 1996 seasons) and Blood on the Horns.

I can’t say I’ve read all of Lazenby’s dozens of books, but I think I’ve read all of his ones about the Lakers, including the incredible oral history The Show: The Inside Story of the Spectacular Los Angeles Lakers in the Words of Those Who Lived It. His 2010 book Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon, is the best thing ever written about the tortured hoops genius, and that includes West’s own autobiography, which was released after Lazenby’s best-seller. Also, if you’re a hoops fan, follow Lazenby on Twitter, where he is one of the more entertaining scribes.

In 2007, in the wake of the mass shooting at Virginia Tech, Lazenby oversaw a book put together by his journalism students, called April 16th: Virginia Tech Remembers.

Lazenby took time off from tweeting about Jackson and putting the finishing touches on his Jordan biography to talk about Kobe Bryant and Jordan, Phil and Tex Winter, the life of a biographer, Sid Hartman, the worst losses — and greatest victories — in Lakers history, and much more. Thanks a lot for your time, Roland.

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The good thing about writing about the NBA playoffs after they’ve started is that you won’t type sentences like, “Iman Shumpert’s defense will play a key role when the Knicks upset the Heat, but the Derrick Rose-led Bulls will ultimately prevail in the East.”

The playoffs are only two days old and already two players have been lost, injuries that not only ended their season, but will carry over into the next one. Rose’s torn knee alters the entire Eastern Conference race. While the Bulls should still have enough to ease past Philadelphia, most people would expect them to lose to the Celtics in the second round, if Boston’s old bones do make it past Atlanta. And the Heat become the overwhelming favorite in the conference, though they might have been just that even before the defending MVP went down.

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Merry Christmas from TVFury, Mr. T and ... Nancy Reagan?

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Tapes. If you are still in need of a last-minute present for a loved one, think about getting them a subscription to TVFury. Tough to beat the price. Onward.

* On Christmas Day, the Lakers face the Bulls in the first game of the Mike Brown era, which follows the Phil Jackson reign. The Lakers will run an offense that includes a bunch of dribbling, some isolation, a wounded Kobe coming off screens, Pau Gasol shooting jumpers and Andrew Bynum getting injured. But it won’t include the triangle. Chuck Klosterman wrote a great piece for Grantland on the triangle offense and why, with Phil’s departure, it’s all but dead in the NBA.

* King Jong-il was a dictator, a madman possibly bent on nuclear destruction and an all-around strange guy. Yet reading about his sporting exploits is amusing, such as his famous round of golf when he shot 38 under par. The New York Times details the Dear Leader’s athletic achievements.

* Slate’s always-entertaining Explainer section offers readers a chance to vote on the unanswered question they’d like to see answered. Some of the choices: Are the blind sleepy all the time? Why do so many of our states end with the letter a?

* I remain an unapologetic Tom Cruise movie fan, even though Louise has refused to see any of his movies in the theater for about six seasons, or, for your Cruiseologists, around the time he jumped on the couch. I’ll be seeing the new Mission: Impossible this weekend, and New York Magazine wrote about whether the movie shows Cruise is back at the top of the action genre.

* Got any plans tonight? TV does. He’ll be heading to the second of two 10th-anniversary shows for Soulcrate Music, probably the best South Dakota rap crew, well, ever. (There are a few tickets left, allegedly, although the Thursday show sold out.) Expect a review next week. It’s likely to focus on how TV wishes he could be invisible when he attends concerts.

* And, now, a question: Am I the only educated man in America that doesn’t have time to read? Every week, this site – and many others – make me feel either stupid or lazy for not being able to dig into some excellent writing and weighty issues. I’m tempted to blame my kids except that I’m hardly the only person who has procreated. I feel like this is putting me at a disadvantage in terms of writing and life in general. Dammit.

Happy holidays to you all, just the same.